Improving Concussion Data

August 18, 2017

The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s 750 member high schools reported nearly 500 fewer concussions for the 2016-17 school year than the year before – 11 percent fewer.

That’s good news, but it’s not a trend we can bank on. It’s too soon to do that. There are too many variables that might explain or contribute to the decline from 4,452 to 3,958 concussions.

Related Story | 2016-17 Summary Report

But of this we are certain: Schools are taking head injuries seriously. It is not a lack of concern or a lack of care in reporting that has led to the 11 percent decline.

It’s more likely the second year’s data is just better than the first year. The process was better understood. The numbers are more accurate.

Our data will become most reliable and useful when we have several years to compare and analyze. Only then will we really know where the trouble spots remain; and only then can those areas be most effectively addressed.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.